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Remember the recent wedding we featured where the couple, Ash and Bec, entertained their guests with live music?

Rather than the expensive wedding reception venues, elaborate decorations, intricate detail or insanely-priced wedding gown, it’s the simplicity and intimacy of stories like Ash and Bec’s that make a wedding memorable and worth re-telling again and again.

Today we’re fortunate enough to be able to bring you another real wedding story where music was one of the highlights of the wedding. And like Ash and Bec’s, today’s wedding is all about the smiles, laughter and love–and with some wise words thrown in.

The spirited engagement shoot

We first came across Emma and Frankie with their engagement shoot photos: natural and relaxed, there were no elaborate props, no extraordinary backdrops, no costume changes. Instead, big grins, casual charm and a guitar take centre stage.

The “nightmare” that was the guest list

The engagement shoot may have been simple and relaxed, but Emma and Frank admitted that it was quite a far cry from the actual wedding. One of the biggest struggles faced by this happy couple was organising the guest list.

“We invited 260 to the ceremony and 220 to our reception,” says Emma. “It was really difficult keeping our numbers down because Frankie has made a lot of friends over the years, and Chinese custom involves our parents inviting their friends, too.” Emma admits that keeping to their limit, and their budget, was at times a challenge.

The couple also encountered etiquette issues while preparing the guest list.

“We had to balance the Chinese custom of parents inviting guests–some whom we didn’t know–and our own individual groups of friends. We also had to consider whether to invite friends’ partners.” Emma admits to worrying over offending people who weren’t invited to the wedding.

Preparing for the wedding and the marriage

Despite the extensive guest list, the couple opted not to hire a wedding planner, deciding to make use of their year-long engagement period to prepare for the wedding and the marriage.

“We were engaged for exactly one year and probably used more than half this time to plan for the wedding day. We had no idea how many small details were involved with planning a wedding, even after having attended several of our friends’ weddings over the past few years.”

So how did the couple pull off a two hundred-plus head count wedding sans wedding planner?

“With some help and advice from married friends, bridal party, our parents… and Google,” Frankie says. “Emma was particular about details but tried to keep things simple, while I tried to be supportive and come up with practical ideas when possible.”

The couple also points out that they are lucky to be a part of a strong church community where helping others is the norm. “People were so generous in providing their time to help before or on the day of the wedding.”

In addition to the wedding preparations, Frankie and Emma also made it a point to prepare for the more important event: the marriage.

“We used our engagement period to prepare for the marriage itself, and took a pre-marriage counselling course where we were able to talk with a mediator about expectations, conflict resolution, communication, goals, etc. A one-year engagement was a good length of time for us.”

Faith brought their fate together

Frankie and Emma met at a church they’ve been attending since they childhood. But it wasn’t until 2005 that they struck up a friendship. Of course, the rest is history: by late 2006 they had both realised that they wanted something more from the relationship.

“We had discussed about our future together at an on-off basis whilst we were dating, and started talking more seriously about getting married after Emma finished university,” says Frankie.

Finally in 2010, Frankie took charge and decided to turn the “on-off basis” into something more certain.

“Frankie booked us tickets to watch Wicked: the musical, knowing that I love watching musicals,” Emma recalls.

“Before the musical, Frankie picked me up from work but made a detour, suggesting that we watch the sunset at a park lookout. I didn’t suspect anything even though he was a little quiet during the trip.”

Frankie proposed on bended knee at the park on the 26th March 2010, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Observing, respecting customs

Frankie and Emma had a Christian wedding ceremony in an old sandstone church building with one of our their Church pastors officiating the wedding. “We kept pretty close to the structure and rites that are traditionally used but made some changes to the traditional Christian wedding vows to make it our own,” the couple tells us.

“The music we used was a mix of contemporary and traditional Christian music. We had friends as our musicians playing the piano, violin, cello, guitar and drums. But to keep it modern, we were pretty insistent not to have the organ playing!”

Although they were aiming for a contemporary feel, Frankie and Emma made sure that their Chinese customs were also observed by holding a Tea Ceremony the day after the wedding.

“The Tea Ceremony involved us serving tea to each relative as we received a gift and word of blessing from them. The gift is usually pure yellow gold or a lai-see (a red envelope with money slipped inside) as a sign of blessing for the future.”

“Nothing unusual”

“We don’t think our wedding was very unusual,” the couple tells us. But then Emma adds, “although if you count surprising the bride as unusual, Frankie pulled out a guitar during the wedding speech and serenaded me with Bruno Mars’ Just the Way You Are.”

There were a few other surprises as well: during the reception, the prop L-O-V-E letters used as bridal table decoration and that were also supposed to be used for the photo shoot went missing. What followed was a little hunting drama.

“The band of groomsmen were kind enough to hunt them down for us after Emma insisted we needed them for the photo shot,” Frankie recalls.

Both Frankie and Emma agree that these small quirks helped make their wedding feel real.

Life after the real wedding

Frankie and Emma may have used their engagement period to prepare for both the wedding and the marriage but in hindsight both agree that the real challenge is not in tackling the wedding guest list, nor in dealing with communication issues between the ceremony and reception venues.

“Marriage can be challenging at times. I don’t think advice, words of wisdom and pre-marriage counselling can ever prepare you for real married life after the wedding and the anticipation of spending your life with your one and only. But you learn and you grow – that’s what it’s about, right?”

Photos by Eclektic Photography

Eclektic Photography & Design is owned by Paul and Tracy Mock, photographers specialising in weddings and engagements, lifestyle portrait photography, commercial & events. Visit their website or their blog to view their portfolio.

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